Thursday, December 23, 2010

Carmelized Fennel and Barley Risotto with Toasted Walnuts

I was at Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul recently and was served some delicious barley risotto.  It was golden beet with parmesan cream, absolutely heavenly!  I am a risotto lover, but I had only had risotto with rice before that.  So this wonderful barley risotto inspired me to try making some at home!  I wanted to create a vegan version, however, but still have it be as mouthwatering and warming as its rich cousin.  Although I had beets on hand, I decided to go with a carmelized fennel risotto. 

First, I made a broth from miso, tamari, and nutritional yeast, to give the risotto a savory cheese like flavor without having any.  I caramelized some fennel and shallots, added a bit of garlic, mirin, and thyme, and stirred away.  It smelled wonderful, and a few preliminary taste tests revealed that it was becoming delicious!  At the end I stirred in some lemon juice and zest to brighten the flavor.  I sprinkled the finished risotto with walnuts for some crunch and protein, and dove in.  It was delicious, warming, rich, and everything I was hoping it would be but better!  The miso broth added so much flavor without needing any sort of cheese, I was amazed!  It was a nice big bowl of vegan comfort food!  I will definately be making many versions of barley risotto this winter! 

Carmelized Fennel and Barley Risotto with Toasted Walnuts
Serves 3

1/4 cup white miso
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp tamari
4 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup pearled barley
1/4 cup mirin
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
juice of one lemon
1 tsp organic lemon zest
sea salt
toasted walnuts

In a medium stock pot, combine miso, nutritional yeast, tamari, and water and heat on medium until miso dissolves, then lower to a simmer.  In another large pot, heat olive oil and add shallot and fennel, and saute until very soft, and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and barley and cook until barley is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add wine to deglaze, then a little pepper to taste as well as about 1/2 cup miso broth, and thyme.  Let barley absorb broth, then add another half cup, stirring often, until all the broth has been used up.  When barley is cooked through, and all broth has been used, stir in lemon juice and zest, add sea salt if desired (I didn't need any as it was salty enough without it) .  Ladle into bowls, and top with toasted walnuts to serve!


Sandra said...

I love barley risotto, and started using more often than rice..but I never made it with fennel..that would interesting! Nice dish, looks warm and healthy!

veggietestkitchen said...

This looks wonderful. I like your description about building the creaminess with the tamari and miso. I really need to get more hip with the vegan techniques if I ever plan to step my vegetarianism that extra notch. I bookmarked this recipe to make when I've gathered all that good stuff. It would be cool if you did a post on stocking a vegan pantry.

Green Girl @ A little bit of everything said...

I love barley and lately i keep using it. have to try the combo with fennel. thanks for sharing.

Wishing you the gift of faith, the blessing of hope and the peace of His love at Christmas and always.

Happy Holidays


Stella said...

This sounds so heavenly, Amy! I love barley too-it has more fiber than oats. I just found that out the other day;-)
Oh, and I so need to get some fennel-thanks for the reminder!

Trix said...

Caramelized fennel sounds like the perfect complement to the heartiness of the barley, and the walnuts for crunch is a lovely touch!

Wilde in the Kitchen said...

I've only ever had rice risotto too, this sounds different and great! Thanks for sharing.